MARY POPPINS RETURNS!
- By Alex Brown
- Photos Courtesy of Disney Studios
I can still recall sitting at full attention as a young child in front of the neighbor’s television, enraptured by Julie Andrews soaring about as Mary Poppins. “What lucky kids,” I thought, to have a nanny who could do such wonderful things (or a nanny at all!). Little did I know how lucky we were as kids to have Mary Poppins—the film—to indulge our childhood fantasies. And finally, an entirely new generation of children will have Mary to rely on to deliver fun, magic and imagination. I would venture to guess some adults will be delighted as well.
Announced in September of 2015, the film picked up none other than Rob Marshall to direct, and in 2016 scored its first two blockbuster cast members in Emily Blunt, playing Poppins herself, and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, apprentice of the original film’s beloved Bert. Definitely NOT a remake of the original, the new film takes place in 1935, 25 years after the conclusion on the classic movie we all love and adore.
Now all grown up, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw; The Danish Girl, James Bond: Spectre) has suffered a tragic, personal loss while living at that same house on Cherry Tree Lane with his sister, Jane (Emily Mortimer; Newsroom, Hugo), three children Annabel, John and George, and housekeeper Ellen (Julie Walters; Billy Elliot, Harry Potter). When everything seems to be coming apart, Michael seems at his wits’ end until an old friend “drops” in.
One of the unique qualities of the 1964 classic that made it so very special for audiences was the musical prowess, and velvet vocal stylings that Julia Andrews brought to the screen. With a score composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, who doesn’t remember timeless tunes like “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” (the subject of which makes an appearance in the new film)? Not to be outdone, Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman—known best for their Drama-Desk-, Tony- and Grammy-Award winning music for Hairspray–have teamed up again to make the soundtrack for Mary Poppins Returns another instant classic.
And if that is not enough to entice you to see this sure-to-be-stellar sequel, maybe the rest of the cast will. Blunt, Miranda, and the rest of the core cast are joined by a roster of stars that can only be described as pure sterling. For starters, Dick van Dyke—the only original cast member to return to the film—graces the screen as Mr. Dawes Jr., the son of Mr. Dawes Sr., also portrayed by Dyke in ’64. Wow! Fun fact to know is that when Dick van Dyke was told about the sequel, his first reaction was to ask, “can I be in it?!” So great.
Joining hm are Hollywood royalty Colin Firth as William Weatherall Wilkins, the current president of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank; Legend-in-her-own-right Angela Landsbury as The Balloon Lady; and none other than the one, the only, Meryl Streep as Topsy, Poppins’ eccentric cousin. With this cast, what could possibly go wrong?
While the first Poppins became a hallmark of films in the era in which it was released, so too will her return. But in a marked difference from most films released today, the effects will not be comprised of all CGI. By capturing the cartoon-nature of many of the original’s favorite scenes, Marshall is heralding back to that time in hopes that the same magic can cast a spell on moviegoers new and old alike.
So as the cold of winter settles in, and you look for a little holiday-time magic of your own, be certain to put Mary Poppins Returns at the very top of the list. It will be a delight for the entire family, and a throwback to a simper time when magic was to be believed.
“Mary Poppins Returns” hits theaters December 19th.